Thursday, 28 May 2015

Land pooling a good move but execution may not be easy

The Urban Development Ministry has given its nod on operational guidelines for the land pooling policy but there are several hurdles in its implementation. The most prominent among them is the declaration of conversion of 89 revenue villages into urban villages.

On the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) request, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has already passed a resolution to declare revenue villages as urban villages and has sent it to the Delhi government for approval. The resolution is still lying with the Delhi government.

“The North Delhi Municipal Corporation had passed the resolution but they had imposed certain conditions, which were rejected by the government. Now the government has asked the corporation to remove those conditions and pass the resolution again. I hope this will happen very soon,” said Balvinder Kumar, vice chairman, DDA.

The next hurdle will be to declare the whole area of 20,000 hectares as development area which has to be done by the land and building department of the Delhi government. Kumar says that these two declarations will be finalised by the Delhi government in a month’s time but experts associated with the land pooling policy are assuming otherwise. “The bitter relationship between the Centre and the Delhi government and the latter’s pro-farmer stand suggests the Delhi government will not take any decision in haste. Till the government is sure that the whole policy will be in the interest of the farmers, it will not move ahead,” says an expert. So, once these two notifications are in place, the DDA will be in a position to invite applications from developers to deposit their land with it.

Bijwasan MLA Devinder Sehrawat, who has done extensive work with farmers in the city, feels that the land pooling policy is beneficial for farmers but there are certain issues that need to be addressed beforehand.

“The land acquisitions that were taking place till now were not meeting the farmers’ aspirations. The land-pooling policy gives farmers a chance to become developers. There are a lot of benefits but there are issues that need to be addressed before the policy is finally put in place. We have to look at supporting infrastructure, water and power demands and whether Delhi is ready to take on such a large population,” Sehrawat said.

But these aren’t the only challenges. There are challenges at the operationalisation stage of the policy as well. Some experts believe that there are certain issues in the policy which may end up in court litigations. “What if some farmers are adamant about not participating in the scheme? DDA has decided not to go for compulsory acquisition which it can’t do also until they get cooperation from the Delhi government, and in such situation some farmers can play spoilsport in the whole scheme,” says an expert.

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